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DWP-commissioned research finds Incapacity Benefit Personal Advisers are concerned about working with clients who are suicidal, and about a target driven sanctioning culture.

What: Incapacity Benefit Personal Advisers talk about their role being emotionally draining, and some feel they are being asked to work beyond their expertise, especially when working with ‘customers’ with mental health issues and who are experiencing suicidality. There are concerns that sanctioning could exacerbate people’s health conditions and jeopardise their relationship with the ‘customer’; that potential use of targets would also prevent staff building rapport with clients; and that staff action and/or inaction could worsen people’s mental health. Suicide is mentioned 3 times in the report: The advisers talk about the extra responsibility they feel for, and the “emotional burden” of working with, clients who are suicidal.

Why significant: Shows early evidence, commissioned by DWP, of the complex needs of many people claiming IB, concerns about sanctioning (and a target driven culture) being detrimental to people’s health, and staff concerns about working with people feeling suicidal.


'Incapacity Benefit Reforms - the Personal Adviser Role & Practices', Dickens, S., Mowlam, A. & Woodfield, K, 2004